Tree Preservation Order (TPO) Applications


A Tree Preservation Order, also known as a TPO, is an order made by local planning authorities to protect an individual tree, groups of trees or woodlands. It is not imposed to prevent tree surgery being carried out to the tree(s), merely to ensure the correct implementation and practices of it.  

At SMW (Tree) Consultancy Ltd, we are familiar with local authority ideals on the correct tree work procedures and how to gain a successful outcome. 

Our experience in carrying out health & safety tree surveys is vast. We have completed hundreds of surveys for various clientele, these include private householders and estates, military establishments, camping sites, care homes, schools and many other types of establishments and companies.

It is especially prominent in schools that regular health & safety inspections must be carried out to maintain a site safety level that is acceptable for children. The same can be said for many public establishments: hospitals, offices, care homes, parks. The list is by no means exhaustive, but it is important to highlight the necessity for regular tree surveys in areas of high traffic.


A thorough health & safety tree survey will ensure that you are aware of the health of the trees, any defects they may have, and how to rectify them. Thus improving the overall safety of the site.


Trees have been around longer than we have, so it is important that we protect them. Local authorities will issue a tree preservation order (TPO) on a tree that they deem worth preserving. This does not mean that it cannot be worked on if it is required, it just means that the work must be done correctly. We can assist you in applying to carry out the work and correct method of doing so.



A recent court case (Cavanagh v Witley Parish Council & D Kevin Shepherd) highlighted the necessity for regular tree surveys.

On the 3rd January 2012, Mr Cavanagh (the Claimant) was driving a public bus along the A283 Petworth Road in Witley, Surrey, when a mature Lime tree fell across the road, landing on a wall on the opposite side of the road, with Mr Cavanagh and the bus crushed underneath it.

The responsibility for the tree rested with Witley Parish council (the First Defendant) who asked Mr Shepherd (The Second Defendant), to inspect an area under Witley Parish Council ownership, on a three-yearly basis.

The experts in the case (Dr Dealga O'Callaghan (for The Claimant), Jeremy Barrell (for The First Defendant), and Simon Holmes (for The Second Defendant) all agreed that the tree failed due to severe and extensive decay in the root system, with high winds being a contributory factor. At the time of failure the tree had a significant fungal bracket (ganoderma genus) at its base, but on the furthest side from the road.

The case was heard in the High Court in December 2016 and the judgment handed down in February 2017 (Case No: HQ14 P05328) in favour of the Claimant. The judge found that a three-year inspection regime was inadequate and that a reasonable inspection frequency should have been every one to two years.

When was the last time your place of work

had a health & safety tree survey?

Unstead failure.jpg


Sometimes defects aren't always visible, like in this Sweet Chestnut at a school.  This tree had been monitored every year for 5 years, with the recommendation of shortening the limb. It didn't happen, and the bill for clearing this up was significantly higher than if the work had been done in the first place.